10 things that have changed since going gluten and dairy-free

I hate running.

Making muscles on the back porch

Making muscles on the back porch

This afternoon I went for a run and didn’t hate it.  In fact, I liked it.  I ran longer and faster than I have in double-digit years.  As I made my way past tomato stands and cornfields in rural Pennsylvania I couldn’t help but attribute it to my recent elimination diet and resulting gluten and dairy-free lifestyle.

When I first approached my doctor with the idea of being gluten intolerant 4 years ago  she scoffed, said it was just a fad, and waved off my question. At that point, I was less direct and didn’t pursue it further.  Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, I’ve changed and she’s no longer my doctor.  My history with food is pretty busted. I’ve written about it at length here, see Related Posts below for more. After feeling off my game for years, I decided to try a gluten-free elimination diet/cleanse of sorts. I’m in love with Rebecca Wood’s, revamped, book, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia. It’s not a diet book. It’s not a cure-all. It’s information.  I’m in love with information and I want it to be my baby daddy.  The book is just what it calls itself, an encyclopedia about whole foods. Not the over-priced market, Whole Foods but the plants that grow out of the ground you’re supposed to eat.  I learned all about new plants and even picked up a few recipes.  I was able to find any ingredient I needed at my local co-op.  Look for one in your city. They’re worth it.  My life has changed since going gluten and dairy free. Here’s how.

  1. Energy: I’m anemic, I have Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD), Polycystic Ovaries, Lactose Intolerance, I have allergies that rival Bubble Boy’s, and I’m an educator starting 3 companies simultaneously.  My body is put through its paces regularly.  I assumed that all those issues were the reason I was so tired. Cutting out gluten and dairy reset my body to “normal” and I’m no longer fighting “the itis” or ethnic fatigue.  I feel like my body came back to me.
  2. Waist size: 3 or more inches have disappeared from my waist. It might be weight loss, but I think it’s bloat. Probably both. I was constantly gassy and bloated. My clothes rarely felt comfortable and I  never felt completely empty even if I was famished.  My midsection is notably smaller.  I’ve also stopped farting like a frat boy after drinking PBR.
  3. No joint pain: After I stopped skating derby I started seeing a physical therapist.  My hip was hurting and my ankle quickly followed.  She gave me exercises and the pain started to go away.  I attributed it to the exercises, but I noticed that the pains came back after I’d been “glutened.” My joint pain has disappeared. It doesn’t hurt to move.
  4. No more insomnia:  I have a history of my body hating me.  That would manifest itself in the form of 3am wake ups after midnight fall asleeps. That’s no longer the case. I often arise with the sun if I’ve gone to bed at a decent hour.  More importantly, I sleep for 7-8 hours regularly and awake feeling refreshed and excited to get my day started.
  5. Wheezing: I was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma a few years ago. I attributed it to being out of shape. My Ear Nose and Throat Doctor said it was asthma and prescribed an inhaler.  I filled the prescription once and then never again.  If my breathing became labored I would just stop the exercise until my lungs stopped punching me in the chest.  Since cutting out gluten and dairy I can run for at least 1-2 miles without encountering labored breathing. Even then, there’s no mucous, and I don’t end up bent over fighting for air.  It’s nice.
  6. Weight loss: Of course. It just seems like a natural progression. If one cuts out breads and cheeses (the only meat I eat is fish) they’re bound to lose weight.
  7. Uncontrollable Cravings: My current doctor (and physician soulmate) prescribed (or rather suggested) I start taking digestive enzymes after I told her how I CRAVED sweets and bread.  I don’t mean, “Oh, I could go for a piece of chocolate.” I mean I’d be sitting in my apartment feel the craving and somehow find myself teleported to Safeway with a basket full of Spicy Nacho Doritos, sugary drinks, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Snickers, and whatever else I stumbled upon. It was bad, folks.  I took the enzymes for awhile.  I’ve since stopped.  The cravings have also stopped. Also things taste different. Processed food has started tasting…well…gross.
  8. No itchy Skin: For the longest time I thought I had lice. It felt like there were flies on random parts of my body.  This might be a result of my recent trip to Morocco where there were literally flies on me all the time, but I doubt it. The itch has gone away and I’m grateful.
  9. Mood swings: I’m pretty even-keeled at this point. Granted, I’m not as stressed as I was previously.  Well, at least I’m not stressed in the same way.  My grandfather is still dying. I’m a new entrepreneur. My salary technically makes me impoverished. I’m writing and acting in a one-woman play that goes up in 8 months. But I’m not snapping at people. My emotions aren’t all over the place.  I feel like….a person.  I’m different.
  10. Pooping:  It used to be weird. Now it’s not. I’ll leave it at that. 🙂

This is not a post to convince you that you should eliminate gluten or dairy.  If I could go back I would jump buck naked into that pool with the quickness.  I can’t though. My body has been sending me messages for years. Things like poverty, lack of knowledge, and plain ol’ stubbornness have preventing me from hearing them.  I’m walking away from this experience feeling like I have more control over my health than I previously believed.  That’s what I’d like you to take away from this experience.  Your have more control over your well-being than you think.

Related Posts:

Emotional Eating

Body Image

Fasting and Babysitting Leads to Reconciliation


Sugar Cravings in an Athletic Woman

The reluctant gluten-free vegetarian

Alright y’all, I’m LOSING it.  Its 5am I haven’t been to sleep all night because I was up watching, “Orange is the New Black” on Netflix (bomb), painting, and “cleaning.”  My stomach is rumbling and my head hurts. My hips and ankles are sore and I keep clenching my teeth even though I basically shattered a molar two months ago.  Being in Morocco was an exercise in controlled starvation.  Let’s just say there were a lot of potatoes and white bread involved.  I will not deny the presence of Pringles as well.  When I returned to the States I craved vegetables.  That’s all I wanted to eat. Veggies. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. I regained some of the weight I’d lost, but I felt better.

I’ve never wanted to be vegan. If that were a choice I had to make it would be for health reasons and not ethical ones. I’m lactose intolerant. I rarely eat meat.  When I do, it’s seafood. Now I think I may have a problem with gluten.  Seriously?! This is getting ridiculous. There has to be something behind my joint pain, stomach cramps, weird cravings, head aches, and SERIOUS allergies.  That’s why I’m eliminating gluten, dairy, and meat. I will still e eating eggs. They’re not actually dairy, just an animal byproduct.

I’ve been thinking about going gluten-free since 2009.  A co-worker of mine and his family were gluten-free and pretty much had me convinced to do it then. I didn’t.  So when I came back from Morocco, I figured this was as good a time as any.  My stomach was basically empty anyway.  I’m also planning to do a juice fast a la “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead,” but first things first.  It doesn’t feel right starve my body of basic nutrients by being in a veggie dessert for a month to then fast on only fresh squeezed juice for 60 days.  So I’d like to balance my system by going on a 21-day gluten-free elimination diet. If that goes well and answers some questions then I probably won’t fast for 2 months. I’ll still fast though.  Fasting clears my head and centers my spirit.  Plus, I think it will help me address some of the questions I have about food related allergies.  It will also allow me to get a better result from introducing and eliminating problematic foods. I just want to feel better.

While visiting a friend in Oregon I went shopping for the basic grains and goodies at Trillium Natural Grocer in Lincoln City, Oregon.  There aren’t any food co ops near my home in Georgia so my friend suggested I mail things home.  I did.  That shopping trip cost me $200+. Mailing the package cost another $69.  I know. I know! I got excited. Bulk food shopping is a spiritual experience for me.  I bought enough short grain brown rice (it’s the business, y’all!) to last me for like 6 months.  I bought a bunch of quinoa as well.  Copious amounts. In the end I felt good about my purchases.  Quinoa here in the suburbs of Atlanta is about $6.79 a pound and I think I paid $3 -$4 at Trillium.  In Seattle, I’ve paid as little as $1.79 for a pound so nothing beats those prices.  As I type that I feel IMMENSELY guilty about how the surge of interest in foods like quinoa in the United States is making it nearly impossible for residents of small towns where the quinoa is sourced to afford this common food. And still I buy it.

Overall, I’ve set myself up for a successful gluten-free journey.  In my package I included gluten-free flours, mixes, and oats as well as other grains.  I had to grab some groceries when I got here so I’d have something to eat while waiting for my food bundle of joy to arrive from Oregon. I wanted to try new grains and I’ve never eaten barley so I got excited and bought some. Weeellllll, for those of you that know anything about gluten, barley is NOT gluten-free. It’s like the epitome of gluten.  Soooo, I’ve been super gassy and my stomach has been bloated and crampy for the past 48 hours.  Whoops. Experience is the name we give our mistakes, right?

My package should get here on Tuesday and in the meantime I’ll be eating gluten-free by cooking with veggies, nuts, fruit and whatever else I can find.  If you have any suggestions or similar experiences I’d love to hear them. I need some serious help, family!

Wearing my apron: Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Reposted from my, now defunct, cooking blog:

…without TVP! Whoa….

UPDATE: This recipe is actually vegan. Go figure! Moving on…

I took an entire onion and diced it into small pieces, tossed it in my favorite pan and let the pieces brown. Then, I took these quinoa crumbles and added them to the onions.

Next I took my favorite barbecue sauce (it’s more than a year old, oops) added it to the pan, threw in some brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, a little dijon mustard, some garlic powder and voilá, sloppy joes!

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I baked two loaves of whole wheat Parmesan and sun dried tomatoes bread yesterday.

This should make for a good sandwich. I didn’t use a recipe, but if you’re interested in what’s in anything you see let me know and I’ll tell you. Otherwise, I’ll just assume you’re here for the smell. 🙂

Wearing my apron: Pizza, Peetza, PIZZA!!

Reposted from my old cooking blog, enjoy!

Weariness and a sinus infection kept me from posting earlier. My apologies. In my time away from the incandescent screen that is my Macbook I discovered to recipe for AMAZING pizza dough. Wowzas. I’m beyond happy with this recipe and I got it from my new favorite magazine Mother Earth News.

What you’ll need:

3 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 tbsp granulated yeast
1 to 1 1/2 tbsp Celtic salt

5 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
Fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch chunks or slices
Handful of basil leaves
Flour, cornmeal or parchment for pizza peel (NOT Bob’s Red Mill)
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Combine lukewarm water, salt & yeast. Slowly stir in flour with a wooden spoon, bread mixer, or whatever fits your fancy.

Heat oven with pizza stone* in the oven at 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes prior to when you need it.

Use your hands or the spoon to bring all flour together. Don’t worry about making it a perfect round ball. Cover. I mixed everything in a 12 quart bowl and covered it like a lazy bum with a bamboo cutting board. Let sit for two hours.

Meanwhile back at the ranch….

In a food processor:

Add pine nuts and pulse a few times. Then add basil leaves, garlic, and olive oil. Separate mozzarella into pieces. Refrigerate until just before you need it.

Sprinkle pizza peel generously with cornmeal. I’d stay away from Bob’s Red mill because there are HUGE chunks of cornmeal mixed in. Please note, whatever you spread on the peel will be ingested. I used Bob’s Red Mill and felt like I was going to crack a tooth.

Aaaand back to the dough:


Cut off a large handful with a serrated knife.

Dust with a leetle flour (both the dough and the counter)

Roll out dough to desired thickness. Place the dough the peel and IMMEDIATELY add toppings. The longer the the dough sits on the peel the more it will adhere. You don’t want that.

Gently slide pizza onto stone and bake for 7-8 minutes. When the crust starts bubble and brown you’re in business. Remove pizza from oven with peel and let cool. Then eat and enjoy.

Place the rest of the dough in an airtight container and freezer or refrigerate. I put half in the freezer and the other half in the fridge. The longer it sits the better it tastes.

Let me know your thoughts and I’d love to see your pictures!

Enjoy. 🙂

*I went out and bought a pizza peel and stone (and five dishcloths plus a toy for my dog) for a total of 24.99 TOTAL. What, What?! 🙂

Body Image

To say I have a problem with body image is to Mitt Romney might be a Republican.  My struggle with weight has existed since college.  While many put on freshman 15, I put on freshman 40 (+/-).  My face puffed and my calves, which are usually fat free expanded with cellulite as well. I have a pictures where my potbelly looks like I’m 6 months pregnant.  It’s been a struggle. Often a struggle of which I was unaware, but a struggle nonetheless.  During my last Obgyn visit in 2010 my doctor told me I needed to lose 50lbs.  A few months ago I went to the emergency room with chest pains. At a follow-up visit the doctor told me I was strong, but I “needed to lose weight.”  I can pack on 20 lbs in a season without thinking about it.

Photo 326

After proofreading this post I wanted to take this down. I don’t like it, but I’m not going to remove it…for now.

One of the biggest issues that comes with these weight fluctuations is a skewed body image.  No matter how much I weigh,  when I look in the mirror I see that 6 months pregnant not actually pregnant 19 year old. This is a picture of my back a few months ago.  My bra is too small and back fat is spilling out the sides.  The thing is about 2 years ago this bra fit perfectly, and was, in fact, an eensy bit too big.

I don’t have a picture of of my back, but this is a random picture of me from that summer when I was at my most fit.  Photo 49

I spent the summer leading backpacking trips and had less than enough food to eat.  I remember cooking a red pepper with an onion, adding salsa, and putting it in a corn tortilla.  I couldn’t afford bus fare to and from work, so I’d bike the 10+ miles to and from the base each day I was in the front country.  Seattle ain’t flat. In the back country I’d carry a pack between 50 & 80 pounds (+/-) and hike 2-7 miles daily.  I was in great shape.

It is nearly impossible for me to maintain that level of fitness in the front country.  Fitness was my entire life. The problem with the off-season is that I was not burning the same amount of calories, I consumed relatively the same amount of calories if not more, and I wasn’t consuming the same quality of calories (Red Hot Blues vs. G.O.R.P.).  As a result, I needed to find a way to burn a large amount of calories + go to work and lead an urban life.  Not simple. I’m not a fan of pretend exercise. I don’t want to go to the gym. I’d rather hike 14 miles to get from one campsite to another. With the hiking it’s mandatory exercise. The gym is pretend.

I started roller derby in June of 2012. I skated about 3 times a week from June until August.  I was in a different kind of shape. Just look at my legs.  Here is a picture of me in July or August of 2012.

Photo 335

My rectus femoris (totally had to look that up) are AMAZING. My gracilis (again with the look up) are lacking.  I know you can’t “spot” burn fat, but that’s a place I would if I could. I’d like to accomplish a few things:

1. Reconcile what I look like in the mirror with what I see in pictures, and what is true in real life. There is a huge disconnect for me.

Photo 317

I had no idea my stomach looked like this until I took this picture and saw it. Even when I looked back at the mirror I couldn’t see myself as I was.

2. Develop an eating lifestyle that is not reward based and does not lend itself to stress or emotional eating

3. Understand that women are different. Websites like My Body Gallery are fantastic.  I don’t need to look like: Michonne.1.2  imagesimages-1images-2

No matter how much weight I lose I won’t be shaped like them.  My body is built to climb mountains not to grace the covers of magazines stocked on shelves in a society that oversexualizes women.  Their bodies are beautiful.  I just don’t need to make them the mile marker for my own.

Taken 3.20.2013

Taken 3.20.2013

Related blog entries:

Chest Pains – She is indeed Undone

Detox – Wearingmyblackness

Knock Kneed Mary – Wearingmyblackness

All images of copyright of their original owners. If you see your photo here and would like for it to be removed just let me know.



What is it about the night that makes me want to eat my boredom?  Makes me want to eat boredom, hunger, joy, loneliness, pain. With the night comes my inability to be satiated. Crawling through my intestine this monster reaches for my weakness and offers it strength. The strength to do that which makes me weak.  Consumed by my inability to control myself I often give in regrettably, immediately.  Full from follies far from significant I offer my regrets simultaneous with relief.  It’s good to consume without consequence.

Seemingly without.

Yet the results are always there. Each season with skimpier clothes attempting to hide a larger body I take note of my mistakes from colder days.  I acknowledge my habits and vow to do better. Not lying, my habits change with the season. Exercise. Food. Outlook.  All different. Yet, the same come the same months. Always the same. Exercise lessens. Motivation plummets. I expand.  Always with the expansion.

The middle of this season is not the same. Armed with different tools my behavior is different. Slightly. Enough.  The onslaught of these colder months has introduced itself to a different me. And so I fast.  I’ve become accustomed to routines that are better than before but not good enough for yet. This depletion of the nutrients in me is giving way to passage of the toxicity in me as well.  I will meditate, exercise, grow, and accept all which greets me as enter I into difference.

life, decaffeinated

I took my blood pressure today and it was 141/101.  It’s been high like this for weeks.  My ADPKD will worsen with high blood pressure.

One tactic patients try is to reduce their protein intake. I’ve been a vegetarian since 2004 with recent additions of fish over the last few years.  I’ve recently removed animal meats, and reduce dairy to creamer  in coffee.
I need to completely eliminate caffeine.  This is frustrating.

I’ve enjoyed my frequent visits to my favorite coffee shop patronized by local hip hop heads, and neighborhood friendlies.  I’ll just have to switch back to tea– decaffeinated.

It’s not the worst thing that could happen.  I am still afraid, however, that my ADPKD will get the better of me before I can finish leading the life I want.

I’m not meant to be rich

A few days ago I journeyed to a farm not too far from here to eat.  I paid $75 for this experience.  My willingness and ability to do so startled me. I’m not sure it was worth it. The menu is here.

I’m not the kind of person who enjoys drinking beer.  Since I moved to Seattle I’ve encountered some real connoisseurs.  In fact, I work with a guy who can sniff what you’re drinking from across the room, count the bubbles and tell you the brewery from whence it came, the brewer’s grandfather’s constitution, and how long it’s been sitting on the table. Seattlelites are serious about their beverages.  I enjoyed the Dunkelweizen, the Haystack Hefeweizen, and the Copperhead Pale Ale from Snoqualmie Brewery. The final two were okay I think was was “drunk” by the time they were poured. Not drunk as in intoxicated, just over the whole, “let’s drink stuff” part of my day.

We began with a tour.

He’s not drinking. Just staring.

Yeah, this part skeeved me out, too.

I’m a pescatarian and I can totally handle the sight of blood when it comes to gutting a fish. It’s much harder — close to impossible– for me to imagine eating something with feet that has to go through this process.

A common mistake in cooking for a vegetarian is the act of omission instead of replacement. Often, the protein (meat) is removed from the meal.  In this case the chef replaced chicken liver with mushrooms.  That’s a fun choice, but it’s not equal.  It’s like running out of lead in your mechanical pencil and replacing it with a pen that’s out of ink. It doesn’t work. Meat is a protein.  Your body jumps on it like it’s gold in 1849.  Mushrooms? Not so much.  Your body is like, “…hey, that was cool, thanks.”  As a result, I walked away from this experience not quite satisfied.  I could feel there was food in my stomach. It wasn’t heavy. That was nice. It wasn’t worth much either.  Also, portions. The chef prepared a large plate of the chicken liver pate and gave me 3. Yup, 3. Whereas the chicken liver diners had the opportunity for much more person.  I paid the same amount of money as my peers, and received less food across the board.  That was weird.

For the quinoa, egg, and chicken serving I received quinoa and an egg.  Egg”s” are fine.  I received an egg. That was not fine. Quinoa is an awesome source of protein. But it was still missing something that I think the chicken thighs may have offered.  It was a bit bland and dry I think a veggie friendly sauce of sorts would have remedied that.

Ooo, preetty.

For the chicken thighs and kale I just received kale.

This was probably my second favorite course.

What you can’t see is the chevre.  *sigh*  These are deep fried risotto balls. Deep fried+chevre+sugar snap peas= Yes, please.

For dessert we had rhubarb fritters with a maple syrup. I don’t have pictures — probably because they didn’t hold residence on anyone’s plate for long.  We all loved them. The chef said he’d provide the recipe. I will make sure to share it when he passes it a long.  My favorite part of the meal was the pineapple sage. It smells like pineapple yet has the rich flavor of sage.

Chef Travis Bettinson

The chef was friendly and talented.

Overall, my experience at Dog Mountain Farms was pleasant.  My friends and I had a blast and loved that the piglets came super close during dinner. We had to use porta potties and there was nowhere for us to wash our hands (we were offered hand sanitizer). That was a bit off-putting. Other than that, it was fine.  I wouldn’t do it again.  It was good as an experience, not a good habit.

Rich people eat like what?

A few weeks ago a friend of mine discovered Farm dinners.

Yes, that’s a horse in the background.
Courtesy of http://www.experiencepnw.com

The concept epitomizes the localvore movement. “Think global, eat local”  Seattle is allllll about supporting local businesses. Yay! I’m a big fan as well. I fully acknowledge, however, that it’s easy for a place whose streets have been trod by Bill Gates, Joel McHale, August Wilson, Jimi Hendrix, Gail Devers, and Brand Carlile.  “There’s gold is these here hills!”  It’s not so easy for people with less money to access this awesome ideology.  It’s hard for me to write this  because it separates me from a culture that defines me — poverty. My brain is poor, but my wallet is not.  I feel a crazy amount of guilt participating in events like this.

A few of my friends and I are traveling to a Carnation, WA.  We each paid $75 for a Farm dinner experience — Yes. Seventy-five dollars.  I can’t believe I paid $75 to eat 3.5 feet away from my food’s origin.  I’ve lost my mind.  That was the cheapest option.  We chose beer.  Wine was  between $100 and $175. Bananas.

The menu for this evening:


Chicken liver pate, carmelized onions, pickled mustard greeens


Garlic and brown butter lake with stewed chicken legs

Haystack Hefeweizen


Sweet pea arancini with chevre, herb salad, and mushrooms

Copperhead Pale Ale


Grilled chicken breast with quinoa, orange, chile, pineapple sage, and fried egg

Wildcat IPA


Rhubarb fritters with cinnamon maple syrup

Steam Train Porter

*Side note: they spelled “fourth” wrong, didn’t they?  Also, I’m not a poultry eater so I hope they’re substituting.  UGH, even that last sentence was SO PRETENTIOUS.  “I’m not a meat eater, so I hope they’re substituting?!” BLARGH. (I need to reconcile my current existence with my past history). I’m a work in progress.

That being said, I’m sure it will be fun and tasty. It’s just hard spending so much money on one thing, food.

It’s that time again…!

Grocery Shopping! Woot, Woot!

I’m not actually that psyched. I have $10.00 cash that I’m willing to spend on food.  See, I just got back from a conference where I had to pay for everything up front and then get reimbursed.  That totally kills your budget.  So, I’m broke till that check makes its way my way.  My refrigerator is bare bones; I should be embarrassed, but I’m not.  I’ll post picks of my spoils hopefully tomorrow.  Whatever I buy has to last like two weeks. Ha! This should be amusing.